Birthday Brûlée!

Birthday Brûlée

So the hubby’s birthday rolled around again this year…we have a week of celebrations in February, with my husband beginning the fun, my daughter in the middle and then Valentine’s Day.

Last year I made him this Coconut Custard Pie, so this year I was hoping to make him this Boston Cream Pie but time was not on my side, so I made a family favorite, Creme Brûlée!  It’s way easier than you think, trust me and you don’t have to have any fancy equipment, including the torch.

I followed a different recipe this time, Alton Brown’s recipe from the Food Network which was pretty good.  It’s interesting though, reading through the comments, as many people suggested the dish needed longer to cook.  I followed those suggestions and went a bit longer than he said.  You can carefully test the brûlées to be sure they are cooked through with your finger.  See directions below for what I mean…

IMG_1929 IMG_1928

 The really, really important thing to keep in mind, when making Cream Brûlée is to use fresh whole Vanilla Bean, not just extract.  It’s a little more expensive, but it’s totally worth it!  Seriously, the bean is where it’s at!  Above are a couple of pictures of how to get those little jewels out of the bean itself…split the bean down the middle, use the back of a knife to scrape out the goodness!  Oh and don’t throw those beans out!!! Break them into little pieces and put them in your sugar caddy…your morning coffee will thank you! 🙂


The recipe calls for cooking the heavy cream with the vanilla bean, but you want to really watch this step…do not let it boil, at all.  Remove it from the heat as soon as you see it started to stir a bit in the pan and then watch that it doesn’t get a “film” on the top while it cools slightly, stirring every so often.


Look at this bright & sunny egg yolk!  I love how, in the dead of Winter, you can make something in the kitchen that actually helps to brighten your mood!


Here’s the whole mixture in the ramekins waiting to head to the oven.  I bought these ramekins at Target in the Dollar Spot years ago and we use them for everything.  You might be thinking you don’t want to purchase yet another dish, but trust me…this size ramekin can be used for pudding, candies, taco bar night, crafty supplies…etc. etc.!  If you can’t find any at the store, use any tall (but not huge) bowl that can go into the oven.  Be very careful when placing the pan into the oven that you don’t slosh the hot water into the ramekins…not saying I ever did that…lol! 😉

So, when you want to test the Brûlée to see that it is done, dip your finger into a bit of butter or water, (this will help your finger to not stick to the top of the Brûlée) and touch the top of the Brûlée.  It should bounce back and be slightly firm.  Pop these little beauties into the fridge to chill out for a couple of hours or even a day if needed.

Now, the recipe says, to pull out your custards twenty minutes before you want to caramelize them.  I actually like my custard to be a little cold still, afterwards, so I don’t follow that step.  When you are ready to torch them, top (as the recipe dictates) with sugar, and evenly distribute.  Here’s my fun little video using my handy kitchen torch.  Video credit to my youngest 🙂

Fun, right?  I love the smell of burnt sugar!  If you don’t have a torch, you can always use the broiler option on your oven.  Raise the rack to the highest setting that will allow you to put the ramekins on a cookie sheet directly under it.  Watch them and turn the pan as needed.  You are trying to caramelize the sugar on the top, so that it creates a shell that when cracked, reveals the creamy goodness underneath!

Hope you’ll try this and let me know your thoughts or share a picture with me on my Facebook page!

Until next time, Happy Valentine’s Day!

OXOX, Shawn

Happy Valentines Day!

Just a quick post, to say Happy Valentine’s Day to all my “sweet” followers!  If you still have time to make something to show your love today, check out the links below to some of my favorites.  I wanted to post the card I made for my husband here, so it will live forever in this “house” I am building for my children.  I think of my blog as both a scrapbook & a family cookbook, in hopes that someday my children & then their children will be able to use it to re-live the memories we have made over the years.

V Day card

Here are some lovely ideas for Valentine’s sweets for your sweet!

Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter + Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies, via Ambitious Kitchen

Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting, via Life’s Simple Measures

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies, via Joy the Baker

Nut Goodies Bars, via Kowalski’s Markets (yes, I’ve made these and they are so much like the real thing!)

Chai Sugar Cookies, via McCormick Gourmet Collection

And a few that I have “pinned” and want to make…

Hot Cocoa Cookies, via Pip & Ebby

Oreo Doodles, via gimme some oven

Brownie Bites with Strawberry Fluff Frosting, via a Farmgirl’s Dabbles

I could go on & on……….Enjoy my sweet Valentines!

❤ Shawn

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes for your Valentine…


A few years back, I had the opportunity to work for a really great restaurant in the north metro that eventually opened for Brunch.  On that Brunch menu were these amazing Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.  Sadly, that restaurant eventually closed and in the last few days I hit up the chef for her recipe.  They are light, fluffy & just a bit creamy because of the Ricotta cheese.  I most recently made them with a Gluten Free flour mix and they were just as good.  The first couple times I made them, I thought using an entire lemon was too much, so I only used half.  Don’t be like me…use the whole thing!  It really brightens the pancake up!  And the day for that matter!  I enjoyed these for lunch on a recent cold day where the temp was a brisk -6……so do it!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes:

~3/4 cup of flour (or substitute your favorite gluten free mix)

~1 tablespoon baking powder

~1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

~1/4 teaspoon of salt

~1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

~2 tablespoons of sugar (or substitute honey, agave etc.)

~1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (almond might even be nice!)

~1 cup of Ricotta cheese

~2 eggs

~2/3 cup (+/-) milk

~zest from one lemon

~juice from one lemon

Whisk together (to help incorporate air) the dry ingredients.  Mix together wet ingredients.  Combine the two and let batter sit while you heat up your pan.

LR Pancakes

You know the drill…get em’ good and golden, serve warm with syrup, or even #putaneggonit! Fresh fruit is always a welcome side…isn’t this Grapefruit gorgeous!?  🙂


Add a steamy mug of coffee/cocoa or even a bit of bubbly and make your special Valentine very happy this week!

Hoping you enjoy a sweet Valentine’s Day!